It’s Only a Test
Just as I’m getting used to the new rhythm, things begin to change again. I like my routine, mostly. It gives a measure of comfort to know what to expect. But sameness is never good for our core muscles, whether they are physical, mental, or spiritual. We need to be challenged regularly so we stay fit.
As I type this, we are on our to California to work on a project that needed our presence. (Actually, Paul’s presence but we come as a package.) Don’t worry. We are traveling with our truck and trailer, so we are still staying ‘home’ and away from others. I love adventuring, but with the current restrictions and all the precautions against the virus, it sure takes the fun out of it. Regardless, I hope to make the most out of the time and enjoy the change of scenery.
God has kept me thinking about our need to allow joy to lead us through trials, as I spoke about in Life Plus Berry Cobbler a few weeks ago. I have been stuck in James and his teaching about the verses “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3) I have heard these verses many times before but in the midst of our current situation with COVID-19, the words take on a deeper meaning. It’s like anything. With each experience, the Holy Spirit can teach a new lesson, bringing more clarity to what the verses are saying.
My husband, Paul, is very excited about doing the job in California. I asked him what it was that made him feel that way. The answer was, “It’s the challenge.” That is what the passage is talking about in verse two,
“Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.”James 1:2
The trials the verse is talking about is a proving or a testing to see if knowledge produceses action. Paul is excited because he is going to be able to put his training and expertise to the test of completing the task. From experience, I know it won’t go as smoothly as planned. These things rarely do. There will be things my husband did not anticipate and he will have to figure it out and finish the job. But that does not diminish his joy as he looks forward to the challenge.
Paul is starting with the right attitude right. He calls it excitement. I think it just might be joy of looking forward to the challenge and seeing it through to the finish. When joy leads us into a test, it empowers us to keep going when things get tough or don’t go as planned. It’s like a jet pack that gives us an extra boost when we need it. It fills us with hope. And hope plus joy are a dynamic duel. The two together help us to hang in there through the difficulties and disappointments. They lighten the load and make the journey a easier and yes, maybe even enjoyable.
And before you ask, “Where is God in all this? Aren’t we supposed to rely on God for everything?” Exactly. He has given us the tools to navigate through life even when we hit rough patches. It’s up to us to use them. He told us about joy and hope. Now, let’s try them out. Let joy lead. Don’t fear the test. I think you will find God knows what He’s talking about.
Joy strengthens hope and hope flourishes in joy.Pope Francis
Here’s a bit of joy—
Baby J turned one at the end of April. It feels like she just came to us yet like she’s always been part of our lives. A weird feeling to have this moment and eternity all mixed together. To celebrate her day we had a family dinner with just the people we have been isolated with this whole ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ quarantine. When it came time to sing Happy Birthday did it quarantine style. We created a Zoom meeting so others could join us for cake. Baby J waved and waved at everyone who showed up. She’s already accustomed to our new way of doing things. Oh, the age we live in.
No celebration is complete without cake. I decided for Baby J’s birthday we would have Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake. It’s a twist on the strawberry shortcake I grew up with. The cake has a beautiful sweet and crunchy crumb on the outside, is layered with sweetened strawberries, and then frosted with cream cheese frosting. (My mouth is watering as I type.) Head on over to the Pioneer Woman website and get the recipe.